Pork belly is a bit of a trade secret. It’s rich, delicious, and if you can get your hands on it, fairly cheap. It’s like shallots and Maldon salt, these little touches that turn a home-cooked meal into something that rivals a commercial kitchen. Pork belly is a favorite among chefs, and it’s easy to see why.
This gorgeous, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth cut of the pig is actually bacon, before it’s baconed. It’s hard to come by, but not impossible. Don’t plan to just pick this up at Safeway, you’ll have to call around to local butcher shops.
The great news is, once you find it, it’ll probably be less than $4 a pound. One thing to keep in mind is how differently the meat and the fat need to be cooked. The meat itself needs the slow and low treatment or it’ll dry out, a good brine will help with this as well.
The fat, on the other hand, needs an intensely high heat. Finishing these little bites of meat candy on a hot grill is also a great idea. Adding some sugar to the skin will help with a beautifully caramelized crackle.
It’s also perfect with beer. Fancy, slow-cooked bacon was just made for a beautiful, balanced IPA, one with extra hops but a strong malt backbone. Beer and pig, it’s hard to go wrong.
Stout Brined Crispy Chili Brown Sugar Pork Belly
- 1 cup very hot water
- 3 tbs kosher salt
- 1 tbs white sugar
- 1 tbs whole cloves
- 1 tbs whole allspice berries
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 24 ounces stout
- 4.5 lbs pork belly
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 tbs rice vinegar
- 2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp red chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
- In a large bowl or baking dish stir together the hot water, salt and sugar until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cloves, allspice and peppercorns. Stir in the beer, test to make sure the brine is cold (if not, chill until cooled).
- Add the pork belly, cover and chill for 12 to 24 hours.
- Remove from the brine (reserve brine), rinse the pork belly well.
- Place a wire rack over a baking sheet (alternately, a baking pan will work), pour about 1 cup of the brine in the baking sheet making sure the wire rack is not submerged.
- Place the pork belly on the rack, bake at 275 until pork is fork tender, about 4 hours.
- Remove the pork from the oven, raise the oven temperature to 500.
- Stir together the brown sugar, vinegar, chili flakes, and chili sauce.
- Brush the pork belly with the sugar mixture.
- Roast for ten minutes, re-brush with sugar mixture, roast again until pork is golden brown and the top is crispy.
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